Wrongful Death and the Disney Tragedy

Wrongful death in the state of Texas is defined as the taking of the life of an individual resulting from the willful or negligent act of another person or persons.

You may recall the recent tragedy that occurred at Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago. A two-year-old boy, Lane Graves, was snatched by an alligator and pulled to his death. The heart-rending death of this innocent boy shook the American public and has also opened eyes to the signs that were never really there.

Walt Disney Land may be liable for this child’s death, due to the fact that they neglected to place proper visible signage, warning the public of possible alligators.

The incident occurred on Tuesday, June the 14th, at approximately 9 PM while the family was relaxing on the beach at the Disney Spa. The unsuspecting child was splashing around in the shallow waters of the lagoon, when an alligator emerged from the darkness of the water and grabbed him. His father, Matthew Graves, was nearby and attempted to rescue his son from the alligator, but was unable to do so.

Though the beach area where the alligator attack occurred did have “No Swimming” signs up, news sources have indicated that there were no warning signs placed wheresoever regarding alligators.

Unsurprisingly, the Walt Disney Company has promised to add alligator warnings, but of course none of this will bring the Graves’ son back to them.

Needless to say, many are left wondering if the attack could have been prevented, if only Disney would’ve simply made it known to the visitors that there were possibly alligators in the lagoons. Undoubtedly, the Walt Disney Corp. had a responsibility to warn their hotel guests of any dangers that they knew about or from which there was possible danger. This of course would have led to family members being more cautious and vigilant while visiting the lagoon area.

Presumably, while vacationing at Disney World, families are likely to be a bit more lax and assume certain security protocols are set in place to secure the establishment – especially considering the financial cost of such an ideal vacation.

The reality is alligators would probably not rank high on the list of vacation worries.

Frighteningly though, this has not been the first tragedy where Disneyland has been involved in a wrongful death lawsuit. In 2005, a four-year-old boy from Pennsylvania was injured while riding the Epcot attraction, Mission: Space. It was while riding this simulation, which mimics a trip to Mars using centrifugal force, that the boy suddenly tensed up, cried out, and quickly became unresponsive. The paramedics on the scene rushed the boy to a local hospital, where doctors were unable to resuscitate him, and he ultimately lost his life.

It was the well-versed attorney, Robert A. Samartin, who represented the boy’s family in their wrongful death lawsuit against Disney. According to Samaratin, Disney had not properly warned the public of the ride’s hazards, nor did the Disney staff or paramedics do enough to help during the medical emergency. Samartin argued that if the risks for riding were so severe, then the child should never have been allowed to get on the ride. Samartin explained that Disney World should not have been exposing the general public to an attraction whose forces they didn’t fully understand.

Similarly, the Graves could possibly have a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Walt Disney World because the company neglected to properly alert guests of possible dangers.

The elements of a cause of action for wrongful death are:

  • The plaintiff is the surviving spouse, parent or child of the decedent
  • The defendant is a person or corporation
  • The defendant’s wrongful act caused injury to the decedent
  • The injury resulted in the death of the decedent
  • The decedent would have been entitled to bring an action for the injury if he or she had lived
  • The plaintiff suffered actual injuries.

The statutory beneficiaries must file a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of the decedent’s death, which is in most cases the date the cause of action occurs.

It is because of these occurrences that Garcia Law Group would like to urgently remind parents and family members to always be aware of their surroundings, and very diligent while in the care of their children, to avoid any such tragedies. Although Walt Disney World may be at fault, and the families may soon win untold millions, money will never bring back these children.

Should such a traumatic event happen in your life though, Garcia Law Group is capable of providing you the legal support you need to in the darkest of moments. We recognize how valuable life is and want to ensure families they receive the help they deserve. Contact us today at (956) 661.8000.